Acting quickly is critical to stabilizing the entire housing ecosystem. Many tenants couldn’t pay rent on April 1, and they will likely struggle to come up with rent payments for the next several months as the pandemic’s effects continue to grow.
“I hope help is deployed to provide immediate response,” said Hal Ferris, founding principal at Spectrum Development in Seattle. “Overreaction is better than cautious and slow reaction.”
Even though the CARES Act didn’t include funding dedicated solely for rental assistance, state and local governments can use the act’s flexible funding to stabilize renters. And in future federal legislation, lawmakers can ensure all renters in need can stay in their homes throughout the crisis and beyond by offering additional emergency rental funds and ensuring that the resources can provide ongoing assistance.
“State and local governments are going to have to figure out, now that we know what the federal government is going to do, where the gaps still lie. And based on that, what are the things state and local governments can do, and what advocacy at the federal level is still needed to fill those gaps?” King-Viehland said.